Secrecy in the Name of the Lord
A POISON-GAS attack on the Tokyo, Japan, subway in March 1995 killed 12 people, sickened thousands more, and helped reveal a secret. A religious sect known as Aum Shinrikyo (Supreme Truth) had secretly built up an arsenal of sarin gas to use in pursuit of mysterious goals.
A month later a bomb blast shattered a federal building in Oklahoma City, U.S.A., and sent 167 to their death. Evidence seemed to indicate that the attack was in some way connected to the government standoff with the Branch Davidian religious cult in Waco, Texas, exactly two years earlier. At that time some 80 cult members died. The bomb blast also revealed what was a secret to most people: Dozens of paramilitary militia groups now operate in the United States, at least some of which are suspected of secretly planning antigovernment action.
Later, as 1995 drew to a close, the charred bodies of 16 persons were found in a forested area near Grenoble, France. They had been members of the Order of the Solar Temple, a small religious cult that in October 1994 had been in the news in Switzerland and Canada when 53 of its members either committed suicide or were murdered. But even after this tragedy, the sect had continued to function. To this day its motivation and goals remain wrapped in secrecy.
The Dangers of Religious Secrecy
In view of such occurrences, is it any wonder that many people cast a wary eye in the direction of religious groups? Certainly no one would want to support a secret organization—religious or nonreligious—that misuses his trust and causes him to pursue goals with which he does not agree. What can people do, though, to avoid falling into the trap of involvement with secret societies of a questionable nature?
Obviously, anyone considering membership in a secret society would be wise to ascertain its real objectives. Pressure from friends or acquaintances should be guarded against, and decisions ought to be based not on emotion but on facts. Remember, it is likely the individual himself—not others—who will be called upon to suffer any possible consequences.
Following Bible principles is the surest method of steering clear of dangerous groups whose motives are less than honorable. (Isaiah 30:21) This involves maintaining political neutrality, showing love to others, even to enemies, avoiding “the works of the flesh,” and cultivating the fruitage of God’s spirit. Above all, true Christians must be no part of the world, even as Jesus was no part, and this course precludes participating in worldly secret societies.—Galatians 5:19-23; John 17:14, 16; 18:36; Romans 12:17-21; James 4:4.
Jehovah’s Witnesses are earnest students of the Bible who take their faith seriously and try openly to live accordingly. Worldwide, they are well-known as a religious group that ‘seeks peace and pursues it.’ (1 Peter 3:11) Their book Jehovah’s Witnesses—Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom correctly notes: “Jehovah’s Witnesses are in no sense a secret society. Their Bible-based beliefs are fully explained in publications that are available to anyone. Additionally, they put forth special effort to invite the public to attend meetings to see and hear for themselves what takes place.”
True religion in no way practices secretiveness. Worshipers of the true God have been instructed not to hide their identity or to obscure their purpose as Jehovah’s Witnesses. The early disciples of Jesus filled Jerusalem with their teaching. They were out in the open as to their beliefs and activity. The same is true of Jehovah’s Witnesses today. Understandably, when dictatorial regimes wrongfully restrict freedom of worship, Christians must cautiously and courageously carry on their activity, obeying “God as ruler rather than men,” a situation that is forced upon them because of their courageous public witness.—Acts 5:27-29; 8:1; 12:1-14; Matthew 10:16, 26, 27.
If it ever crossed your mind that Jehovah’s Witnesses might be a secret cult or sect, that was likely because you knew too little about them. That must have been the situation with many in the first century.
Acts chapter 28 tells us of a meeting that the apostle Paul had in Rome with “the principal men of the Jews.” They said to him: “We think it proper to hear from you what your thoughts are, for truly as regards this sect it is known to us that everywhere it is spoken against.” (Acts 28:16-22) In response, Paul “explained the matter to them by bearing thorough witness concerning the kingdom of God,” and “some began to believe.” (Acts 28:23, 24) It certainly was to their lasting benefit to get the actual facts concerning true Christianity.
Dedicated as they are to the open and public service of God, Jehovah’s Witnesses will be happy to reveal the plain facts of their activity and beliefs to anyone who cares to know the facts. Why not investigate for yourself, thus being in position to be properly informed as to their faith?
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Jehovah’s Witnesses are happy to reveal who they are and what they are doing